How Long Does A Pinched Nerve Last
Pinched nerve recovery time depends on both the amount of damage and the type of treatment you choose.
Damage from a pinched nerve may be minor or severe. It may cause temporary or long-lasting problems. The earlier you get a diagnosis and treatment for nerve compression, the more quickly youll find relief.
Lets get right down to how to heal your compressed nerve as quickly as possible without medication.
How Effective Are Back Braces
For low back pain, the research is mixed as to the exact degree of pain relief provided by back braces. Some studies have found that back braces can significantly augment other care mechanisms such as corsets while other studies have led to inconclusive results, or found that back supports and education did not result in meaningful improvement in cases of low back pain .
Studies show that back braces are especially helpful for reducing spinal curvature in cases of scoliosis when combined with exercise . Younger patients with scoliosis in particular tend to prefer bracing to surgery, as back braces can potentially improve spinal alignment enough that the need for surgery is eliminated .
Braces also appear to be helpful for those suffering from back pain due to manual labor. Lumbar supports inhibit flexion-extension movements, which make them useful for treating pain for workers whose occupations involve lifting heavy objects .
Some doctors recommend back braces after surgeries such as decompression or spinal fusion for spinal stenosis . Doctors may also suggest a specific type of spinal brace called a corset after a surgery like microdiscectomy, in which a surgeon operates on a painful lumbar herniated disc . Research indicates that corsets provide comparable relief to spinal manipulation, massage therapy, and electrotherapy in cases of subacute low back pain .ââ
Look Into Getting A New Mattress
How old is your bed? You may be surprised to learn that the average life span of a mattress is less than 10 years. Theres no hard-and-fast rule, says Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the division of pain medicine at Stanford University, but if your mattress is sagging significantly or is more than six to eight years old, Id think about getting a new one.
Something else to consider: A firm mattress may not do your back any favors, says Carmen R. Green, MD, a physician at the University of Michigan Back & Pain Center. A number of studies over the years suggest that people with lower back pain who sleep on medium-firm mattresses do better than those with firm beds, she says.
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What About Oral Steroids
If youâre nervous about getting an epidural steroid injection, you may wonder if you can take oral steroids instead. In some cases, oral steroids can be an option, but theyâre generally not as helpful as injected steroids.
Thereâs some evidence that shows oral steroids can be effective in treating low back pain. One study showed that oral steroids caused a dramatic improvement in patients with lumbar radiating pain however, the authors of that study admit that thereâs not currently a large body of scientific evidence supporting the use of oral corticosteroids for treating lower back pain. In addition, thereâs also evidence in the opposite direction which indicates that while oral steroids can improve function in patients with low back pain, they donât provide a measurable amount of pain relief .
Because they target the entire body and not just one specific nerve or joint, oral steroids may be a better option for patients whose pain arises from inflammatory arthritis as opposed to nerve issues.
Oral steroids also exhibit more severe side effect profiles than local steroid injections. Side effects of oral steroids can include weight gain, irritability and mood swings, insomnia, stomach irritation and bleeding, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and worsening of diabetes .
Steroid injections may result in a brief temporary increase in pain, but overall are relatively safe and allow patients to resume normal activities within a day.
Massage Therapy For Low Back Pain
Studies have shown that massage treatments can help relieve chronic low back pain. Massage treatment can restore people to their usual activities of daily living and lessen pain. Massage therapy is limited, and would not be the most effective solution for patients with spinal complications, injuries, or disk problems since massage focuses on the release of muscle tension and not on the structure of the spine itself.
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Ask About Prescription Medications
If your back pain hasnt resolved itself within four to six weeks, make an appointment with your doctor, who will examine your back and ask you to sit, stand, bend, walk, and lift your legs to see how your pain is affecting your mobility. Youll likely be asked to rate your pain on a scale of one to 10, and they may do imaging tests, like an X-ray or MRI. Then, he or she may recommend one of the following prescribed therapies:
- Muscle relaxants: Medications like cyclobenzaprine or baclofen can help relieve painful back spasms. If you go this route, just know that side effects can include fatigue and dizziness.
- Topical pain medications: These creams and ointments, like Voltaren gel, are meant to be rubbed directly on to the area thats hurting you.
- Cortisone shots: If other treatment measures fail, your doctor may recommend an injection of cortisone, a potent anti-inflammatory. There are risks, including thinning of nearby bone, and relief typically lasts just a few months, tops.
Don’t Rest An Achy Back
Doctors used to prescribe bed rest for back pain. But now we know that lying still is one of the worst things you can do. It can make back pain worse and lead to other complications. Don’t rest for more than a day or two. It’s important to get up and slowly start moving again. Exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly. Try swimming, walking, or yoga.
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What Are Some Complementary Alternative And Emerging Treatments For Lower Back Pain
In some cases, doctors suggest therapies that are not considered standard of care. They probably wont be covered by insurance, but they may be worth considering. Examples include:
Platelet-rich plasma . PRP treatments use a small sample of your own blood that has concentrated amounts of blood building blocks known as platelets. Your doctor then injects the PRP directly into a damaged disc. The theory is that PRP injections use your own healing system to accelerate improvement of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. PRP treatment has a longer track record in knee osteoarthritis, but a recent review article in the Journal of Spine Surgery suggests it may have a useful role for back pain, too. PRP needs a lot more research before it can be considered a proven technique.
Stem cells. In this emerging treatment, your doctor injects stem cells harvested from your hip into the intervertebral disc or discs causing your pain. Doing so may lessen pain and the degenerative effects of aging, though, like PRP, more research is needed before stem cells for lower back pain could eventually become the standard of care.
Acupuncture. Your doctor probably doesnt perform acupuncture , but may support you trying it as a complementary therapy. Acupuncture involves careful insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on your body. This may stimulate the release of your natural pain-killing chemicals.
Stretches That Relieve Lower Back Pain
If you are experiencing an achy back, your hips may be to blame.
Tight hips can cause discomfort or stiffness in the lower back, groin, hip or thigh, which is worse with stairs, squats or other activities that require active hip flexion, says Sal Frangiamore, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon for the Summa Health Orthopedic Institute and team physician for the US Ski and Snowboard Association .
Dr. Lev Kalika, owner of New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy in New York City, adds: The low back is intimately connected to our hips. The lumbar spine sits on top of the pelvis, and the hips and pelvis cannot be separated functionally. Because of this, Dr. Kalika explains that hip mobility prevents over recruitment of back muscles.
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Is Your Job Causing Back Pain
A job that involves pulling, lifting, or twisting with the low back can cause injury and low back pain. Even prolonged sitting in an awkward position can cause low back pain. Standing on your feet for hours on end? That can cause lower back pain too. The best way to prevent back pain is to know if you are at risk.
Jobs That Can Cause Lower Back Pain
- Airline crew
- Office personnel
Is It Muscle Strain Or Sciatica
Back pain that occurs after excessive exercise or heavy lifting is frequently a strain injury. However, occasionally these activities cause disc injury and rupture or herniation. When a herniated disc irritates the sciatic nerve, it can cause back pain and, in some people, leg pain.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a form of nerve pain caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs down through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg. Pressing on or pinching of the sciatic nerve causes shock-like or burning low back pain. Sometimes people feel as if the pain radiates down through the buttocks and down one leg, sometimes even reaching the foot.
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More Exercises To Relieve Lower Back Pain
The exercises above introduce gentle movement, which can slowly loosen back muscles. Once a patient gets comfortable with them, Malone incorporates more advanced exercises.
“In general, spine surgeons recommend exercise categories that are done slowly and carefully,” such as yoga and Pilates, which have low injury rates, Gjolaj says.
What the research says: A 2013 review found yoga was strongly effective in treating short-term chronic back pain and moderately effective at treating long-term pain. A 2015 review found some evidence Pilates helps improve back pain, but no conclusive evidence that it is superior to other forms of exercise.
Walking can also help relieve low back pain, says Malone, as it introduces gentle movement and increases blood flow.
When you are walking or standing, your spine is better aligned than it is while you’re sitting, Gjolaj says. This relieves pressure on spinal discs, which can reduce pain.
If walking is not comfortable, you might try a stationary bike, a seated step machine, or walking in the pool, Malone says. These all place less stress and pressure on the spine.
Bonus Tip: Soothe The Pain With Cold And/or Hot
Don’t underestimate the pain reduction of simply applying cold packs and/or hot packs to help reduce your lower back pain.
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain. Some examples include wrapping ice in a cloth, a pack of frozen peas from the freezer, or a cold gel pack. Always keep at least one layer between your skin and the ice/cold pack.
- Heat therapy helps improve blood flow, relaxation, and pain relief. Heat therapy can come in many forms. It’s best to try several to find what works best for you. Taking a warm bath or shower, soaking in a hot tub, or using a heating pad or heat wrap are all ways to bring warmth to your lower back.
Whether applying ice or a heat pack, limit applications to 15 or 20 minutes with at least 2 hours of rest in between to protect your skin. Never sleep with a heating pad or frozen pack as this can lead to permanent skin damage.
Hopefully these overlooked remedies can help you try some new approaches to better manage your lower back pain and find lasting relief.
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What Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain Actually Work
Unless youve had a major injury, such as a fall or car accident, you probably dont need to rush to the doctor for back pain. You may want to try these simple self-care strategies first.
Avoid bed rest. When lower back pain strikes, people often think complete rest will relieve back pain. However, a review of many clinical studies found that patients who retreated to bed actually experienced more pain and recovered more slowly than patients who stayed fairly active
Use ice and/or heat. Many people find that using ice or cold packs for periods of up to 20 minutes at a time helps reduce pain and swelling. Always wrap ice or a cold pack in a thin towel before putting it on your body so you dont injure your skin. You may also find that heat, such as a heating pad or warm bath, eases pain. Ice is recommended in the first 48 hours after injury then you can try a combo of ice and heat.
Try over-the-counter remedies. Short-term use of OTC pain relievers, such as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen, may ease your lower back pain. Also consider OTC creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin. They stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain.
Nerve Irritation And Lumbar Radiculopathy Causes Lower Back Pain
Nerve irritation: The nerves of the lumbar spine can be irritated by mechanical pressure by bone or other tissues, or from disease, anywhere along their paths — from their roots at the spinal cord to the skin surface. These conditions include lumbar disc disease , bony encroachment, and inflammation of the nerves caused by a viral infection . See descriptions of these conditions below.
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Fixing The Root Cause
Now that your pain is relieved, you can focus on treating the root cause of your pinched nerve.
The best way to do that is by rebuilding the support structure of your back.
A healthy back comes from within. You cant fix it with a pill. You cant get it from a gadget. And the surgeon cant install it on the operating table .
Consider physically rebuilding your back support system.
In simpler terms restore the muscle balances in your lower back.
You can learn more about muscle imbalances, how they caused your pinched nerve in the first place, and how to fix them HERE.
What have you tried so far to fix your pinched nerve? Share with us in the comments below.
To your health and happiness,
Core Stability Pelvic Tilt
Lack of core control and stability is a key player in lower back pain. When the abdominal muscles are not performing, the muscles of the lumbar spine have to work harder to stabilize the body in balance. An excellent way to improve core stability is to lie flat with the knees bent up. Tighten abdominal muscles and press the small of the back into the floor. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds and repeat 10-20 times. You can either have your arms resting by your sides or behind your head, depending on whats more comfortable. With this stretch, it is important remember:
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Keep your shoulders pressed to the floor, but relaxed
- Do not hold your breath as you perform this exercise
While lower back pain is extremely common, it is not something you have to live with every day. Improving hip flexibility and core stability as well as lengthening the back muscles by stretching can help reduce the symptoms of lower back pain. However, if your back pain is chronic, the above stretches may help but additional treatment may be warranted.
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Release Your Inner Endorphins
Endorphins are hormones made naturally in your body. What many people dont know is that endorphins may help block pain signals from registering in your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression, which are all associated with chronic back pain and often make the pain worse.
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Low Back Pain
Anyone can have back pain. Factors that can increase the risk for low back pain include:
Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and back pain becomes more common with advancing age. Loss of bone strength from osteoporosis can lead to fractures, and at the same time, muscle elasticity and tone decrease. The intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility with age, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The risk of spinal stenosis also increases with age.
Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. Weekend warriorspeople who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all weekare more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise can help maintain the integrity of intervertebral discs.
Weight gain: Being overweight, obese, or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on the back and lead to low back pain.
Genetics: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis , have a genetic component.
Smoking: It can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the discs, causing them to degenerate faster.
Backpack overload in children: A backpack overloaded with schoolbooks and supplies can strain the back and cause muscle fatigue.
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Where Can I Get More Information
For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:
Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892
NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.